Good Morning and welcome back to Saturday's edition of Lion Links. The season is two weeks away and Orlando is buzzing with excitement, so sit back and enjoy these Links as we continue to count down the days.
Antonio Nocerino Here to Make an Impact
The deal for Antonio Nocerino finally was approved on Thursday and the team is anxiously awaiting his arrival, including Head Coach Adrian Heath. While it is still uncertain as to where Nocerino will play for the Lions, Paul Tenorio of the Orlando Sentinel writes that Heath wants to integrate him as soon as possible. With the season opener two weeks away that may seem more challenging, because he will not be able to join his new teammates until his paperwork goes through. When asked about where he feels Nocerino will fit best, Heath said,
"Having spoke to a lot of people who have either worked with him or played with him, he can play virtually anywhere across the midfield and that's what he's done. He has got two good feet, he can play inside, he can play outside. So, it's going to be invaluable for us and it does give us a little bit of flexibility in terms of do we change shape occasionally to make us more solid away from home."
Heath is already looking forward to implementing some different tactics following Nocerino's arrival and is excited to have him jump right in.
Orlando City Goalkeeper Competition Still Strong
Joe Bendik, who leads the race to replace former starting goalkeeper for Tally Hall, has been a bright spot for Orlando City, as the Lions work to fix their kinks before the beginning of the season. As Alicia DelGallo of the Sentinel writes, Bendik has created a strong competition for the starting goalkeeper position with backup Earl Edwards Jr, and frankly it appears as if Bendik is winning. Heath appears pleased with the healthy competition and is encouraged by both players. Bendik and Edwards both claim to be learning a lot from each other and are helping one another perfect their craft. While it is likely Bendik will receive the go-ahead for the starting position come game time, look for Edwards to make a few appearances this season.
Orlando Pride's Very Own Shines for USWNT
The United States Women's Soccer team qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, following their defeat of Trinidad and Tobago. None other than Orlando Pride striker Alex Morgan led the way, scoring a hat trick, aiding in the 5-0 win. Tobin Heath and Carli Lloyd also scored and Hope Solo kept a clean sheet. The United States will be back in action on Sunday to take on Canada for the coveted CONCACAF Gold Medal at 5 p.m. ET.
Yaya Toure Looking at a Possible Move to MLS?
While Yaya Toure may be heading to China to play, he has made a splash with comments about how he admires the lifestyle and on-field challenge of Major League Soccer. Reports are that the New York Red Bulls, New York City FC, and even Orlando City have reached out to inquire about Toure's contract. Rumors are that Toure will be paid somewhere around $650,000, but is said to be willing to sacrifice some salary to play in MLS. Guess we'll have to wait and see if Toure decides to stay in the Premier League, or become a star in MLS.
Well folks, that's it for today. Have a great Saturday and go Lions!